Broncos sign LB A.J. Johnson

Oct 25, 2014; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Neyland Stadium.Photo: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Elway: "Our organization is confident A.J. is ready to move forward and resume his playing career.”

The Denver Broncos announced on Monday that they have signed linebacker A.J. Johnson.

The Broncos also signed safety Shamarko Thomas, released linebacker Stansly Maponga and placed safety Jamal Carter on injured reserve.

However, the signing of Johnson is the most significant transaction.

Johnson is a rookie who was a three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection at the University of Tennessee from 2011-14. Johnson played 46 career games for the Volunteers and added 30.5 career tackles for a loss, three sacks, one interception, 11 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.

Last month, Johnson and Tennessee teammate Michael Williams were cleared of rape charges that led to Johnson and Williams being dismissed from the Tennessee football program.

“A.J. hasn’t had the opportunity to play football for the last three years while resolving a serious legal matter,” general manager John Elway said in a statement. “We’ve had several conversations with him since he’s been cleared and have become very familiar with his background and character. Our organization is confident A.J. is ready to move forward and resume his playing career.”

Thomas has played in 60 games, including two starts, in his five-year NFL career. Thomas has totaled 24 tackles (16 solo), one forced fumble and one fumble return during his career to go along with 38 special-teams stops. He led the Bills in 2017 with nine special-teams tackles in 12 games played.

Carter played all 16 games with the Broncos as rookie in 2017 after making the team out of training camp as a college free agent from the University of Miami.

Maponga has played in three NFL seasons, but has not played in a regular-season game since 2015.